Court reporters tend to be a worrisome lot. I often wonder what came first: Did the job make us anxious or were we drawn to the profession because our personalities were such that we would not be content in a tranquil environment.
All reporters have experienced the panic driving down the road: “I’m sure I put my machine in the car. I know it’s there. I remember….” — and then we tell ourselves, “I’m not going to reach behind my seat to double check. I know it’s there” — just moments before we succumb and reach behind our seat OR in a real panic, pull over to the side of the road and open the trunk.
For those of us who tend to agonize over all possible disasters, you can buy an emergency wardrobe repair kit. Their ad states, “You’ve seen the photos and stories of actresses suffering from a fashion wardrobe malfunction. A broken zipper or makeup marks on clothing probably come to mind. Don’t let emergencies like these send you home early. The Hollywood Fashion Emergency Kit has all the products needed to prevent or repair a wardrobe malfunction anywhere. Hollywood Fashion Emergency Kits are purse-sized and contain Hollywood Fashion Tape, Deodorant-Removing Sponge, Lint-Removing Sheets, Sewing Kit, Stain Wipe, Earring Back, Instant Button, Hair Band, Nail File, Blister Pad and Shoe-Shine Sponge.” What more could a reporter need?
I’ve always carried a deposition supply kit. You know the kind: stapler, staple remover, tape, Post-its, scissors, more Post-its, paperclips, markers and pens of every color the parties may possibly desire. I would like to add to that list a sense of humor.
I have discovered a new must-have for those extra-long days while perusing the Amazon website: Survival Tabs. Not just any Survival Tabs. These are Survival Tabs 15-Day Court Reporter Emergency Food Supply, Gluten-Free and Non-GMO – Butterscotch Flavor — “The Perfect Nutrition Just In Case.”
The ad continues:
- The ‘Just in Case’ food supply backup for situations such as natural disasters. This is the best possible nutrition in the smallest possible volume. Created to supply the body with all the daily essential vitamins and minerals needed when facing uncertainty. The compact design allows for easy storage.
- One bottle can last up to 15 days using the recommended serving suggestions. 15-Day Supply = 1 Container = 180 Tablets | This calculation is based upon one average person. Consumption requirements may vary from person to person.
- Flavor: Butterscotch. | Contains: 180 Tablets x 1 box | Servings: 12 Chewable Tablets – 20 Calories per tab.
This is a worrisome scenario: We have either one hungry court reporter — or a mistreated one having to go 15 days without a break. Speak up for pity’s sake!
No, not at all. Let me tell you what these tidbits would be good for.
Approximately 12 years ago I arrived on a job sans my A key. Yes, the A key – that very important vowel on our steno keyboard that we use by itself and in combination with all the other vowels to complete syllables and words. The metal post was there, but the plastic tab was not there.
After searching through my case once, twice, three times – each time becoming a little more frantic — I realized I needed to improvise. The conference room was filling up with very important people and I did not want to make them wait.
If there was just something – Ah, yes. This law firm had a candy dish at the front counter. It was one of my favorite spots for those blood-sugar dipping episodes when “we” decide to work through lunch. You know the kind: a lovely bowl of mini candy bars, Jelly Bellies and other high-sugar treats. Who doesn’t like a piece of candy when they are having a tough day? Not only that, it has been statistically proven that 90 percent of people who keep a candy bowl on their desks for people who visit their office or drop by are promoted.
Let me tell you, I would recommend the receptionist for employee of the year. If they had the right kind of candy, I would be ecstatic: something that I could mold into a key and squish it onto a metal post.
I approached the candy bowl with high hopes. I was sure they would have something I could use. Digging down deeper into the selection, trying to not look disappointed at the selection (chocolate would not have a good a half life and could prove quite messy), I realized that the prime piece of candy was not there.
By the time I reentered the conference room, all counsel and parties were present and seated around the table. Okay. Showtime. How hard can this be? That pointy metal post can’t be that difficult to strike with precision and accuracy at 250 words per minute (please let them be kind). Take a breath. No one has noticed. Smile. Make introductions, a seating chart, and swear in the witness.
Well, truth be known, it IS difficult to write accurately without your A key. My translation rate was horrendous. The upside? I was not providing realtime. And as I am known to do in very stressful situations, I started laughing – not out loud in this instance! I hung in there until our noon break when I had a chance to retrieve a key off of a spare machine back at the office.
Now is the time for you to chime in, “WHAT? You didn’t have a spare machine in your car??!!”
If I had a spare machine in my car, yes, that would have been one disaster averted. On the other hand, if I had my Court Reporter Emergency Food Supply Survival Tabs, I would have been able to take one of those delicious chewable butterscotch tablets, molded it into an A key, and continued to work for 15 — or perhaps a mere 14 days without a break since I used one for my key.